Amazon Fire TV vs Fire TV Stick: What’s the Difference?

Amazon officially launched its Fire TV Stick a couple of weeks ago, joining the company’s lineup of hardware products and sitting pretty as a cheaper alternative to the Fire TV, but what are the differences between the two streaming devices?

The Fire TV from Amazon is a full-fledged streaming box that aims to compete with the Apple TV, Roku, and the Nexus Player, but the Fire TV Stick is also a standalone streaming box that gives users access to all sorts of content, but in a smaller form factor.

Both streaming devices from Amazon are headlined by the company’s Prime Instant Video streaming service, and it’s baked into the main functionality of the two devices, but users can also access other streaming sources like Netflix, Hulu Plus, and more. You may think that there’s not much difference between the $99 Fire TV and the $39 Fire TV Stick, but the functionality between the two devices is something that separates the two from each other, even though they may look the same from the surface.

If you’re looking to buy a streaming device for yourself or as a Christmas gift for that special someone, you may want to know what the differences are between the Fire TV and the Fire TV Stick. Here’s what you need to know.

Size

One of the main obvious differences between the Fire TV and the Fire TV Stick is the size of the two devices. The Fire TV comes in a normal size that’s comparable to the Apple TV and Roku. It’s a simple box that’s a few inches across.

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The Fire TV Stick, on the other hand, is a small HDMI dongle that plugs into the back of your television and remains out of sight — a perfect solution for those who already have a crowded home entertainment setup in their living room. Plus, the Fire TV Stick is great for portability, and you can simply throw it in your bag and take it with you to another TV.

However, size isn’t the only difference between the two streaming devices. There’s also slight differences in functionality between the Fire TV and the Fire TV Stick.

Functionality

The Fire TV has a quad-core processor, while the Fire TV Stick has only a dual-core processor, which means that the Fire TV is much more capable at many things, including playing games. The Fire TV is capable of playing a handful of Android games, such as Minecraft, Asphalt 8, Grand Theft Auto III, and more.

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The Fire TV Stick can still play Android games, but the capability is much less overall, with a smaller selection of games that you can play on the Fire TV Stick. However, you can still use the optional game controller that Amazon sells for $39. This is where the biggest difference in the performance between the two devices really shows.

Another big difference is voice search capabilities. The Fire TV come with voice search right out of the box, while the Fire TV Stick can support it, but you’ll have to bone up to the $29 for the voice search controller. However, the Fire TV Remote app for Android allows you to do voice search without spending $29 for the remote, and an iOS version is coming soon.

Price

The Fire TV sells for $99, while the Fire TV Stick sells for $39. You can add the voice search remote to the Fire TV Stick for an extra $29, making the whole package just shy of $70. That’s still $30 cheaper than the Fire TV.

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Your best bet is to go with the Fire TV Stick if you have minimal streaming requirements. The HDMI dongle streaming device will do pretty much everything you need it to do if you’re a basic streamer. However, the more-powerful Fire TV might be more up your alley if you plan on using it a lot and for many different things.

The game capabilities alone make the Fire TV a great gaming console for casual gaming, and it offers the same streaming options as the Fire TV Stick, so we’d say that unless you plan on playing a lot of games, your best bet is to buy the Fire TV Stick.

12 Comments

  1. mmcqueeny

    11/30/2014 at 12:33 pm

    The Fire TV is not worth it at the price point, the Stick is, especially if you can get it on a good Black Friday deal. It is the best way to watch Prime videos, a service which has gotten much better over time. For more on the best streaming video device, check out my latest podcast: http://www.matthewmcqueeny.com/2014/11/91-how-about-apple-tv-stick-or-stem.html

    Reply

  2. Angus

    11/30/2014 at 3:31 pm

    If you use a stereo receiver for your audio then you’ll want to use the Amazon FireTV instead of the stick. It’s definitely worth $99, but you can often find it on sale for about $85. It’s SO faster than my Roku 2XS. I like the interface much better than Roku too. You can also sideload apps if you are into that.

    Reply

    • Katie Zink

      12/09/2014 at 6:50 pm

      Can you expand on the stereo receiver comment? We recently upgraded to a flat screen and sound bar. We have turned the TV speakers off, using only the sound bar speakers. I am looking into ditching cable and switching to the amazon fire, but I am not sure between the stick or FireTV. Would I need the FireTV since we are using the sound bar rather than the television speakers? Thanks for any input!

      Reply

  3. Debra

    11/30/2014 at 4:15 pm

    There were so many popups on this page that I was not able to finish the article.

    Reply

  4. Piccadilly Pam

    11/30/2014 at 4:54 pm

    I agree, with Debra. The pop ups were horrendous!

    Reply

    • mark kreisler

      06/19/2015 at 3:53 am

      use your popup blocker

      Reply

  5. Lisa

    02/05/2015 at 10:21 pm

    If I buy the fire stick, do I need 1 for every television? If I decide to buy 1, is it easy and fast to transfer from one tv to another?

    Reply

  6. hoopajoop

    06/05/2015 at 12:51 am

    If your stereo or soundbar has Bluetooth you can use it with the fire stick. No cable required

    Reply

  7. Othy

    09/28/2015 at 5:18 pm

    My fire stick plugs in the back of mu stereo.

    Reply

  8. GAbriella

    01/02/2016 at 4:02 am

    i have it and it works fine

    Reply

  9. bob

    03/05/2016 at 2:17 pm

    can i get asphalt 8 on the stick?

    Reply

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